What is an HEIC file? How to open HEIC file?

If you’re reading this blog post chances are that you’ve heard of HEIC and/or HEIF, or at the very least you have seen one of these new images appear in your file manager. Maybe you haven’t even noticed them yet. Most tech-savvy people probably already know what one of these are, but I still see a lot of new questions popping up on forums and social networks about them.

HEIC may be the next file format to replace JPEG. But what even is it, and why is everyone talking about it? HEIC stands for High Efficiency Image Codec and it’s pronounced like “heek.” It allows for images with a lot of colour, detail, and clarity. Today we’re going to answer all your questions about the new format so you can start using it yourself. For starters, let’s go over the basics of this new format.

What is an HEIC file? How to open HEIC file?

HEIC and HEIF are two image file formats that have been introduced to iOS 11. The new image file formats are going to replace JPEG, GIF and PNG on iOS devices. It has been my experience that not a lot of people know that these file formats are coming along with iOS 11. So I wanted to put together a quick blog post which explained exactly what these file formats are and how you can start to use them.

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The big issue with iPhone camera photos has been space. Once you get an iPhone, and start taking pictures, your photo library in the internal storage of the phone can grow quickly. Storage in all phones is limited, so it’s not uncommon to see people downloading pictures from their phones to their computers to clear up space.

What is HEIC and HEIF?

HEIC is a new file format developed by Apple to replace the standard JPEG format for photos. HEIC images are capable of storing substantially more information than JPEG files, but are not yet widely supported by software and hardware products that run on non-Apple devices.

“HEIC” stands for “High Efficiency Image Container” and is the file extension used to contain images in the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF). The HEIC file is an alternative to JPG, JPEG and PNG image formats. The file format was introduced in 2017 along with the launch of the iOS 11 operating system, and is being supported by most major mobile device operating systems. Users that devices running either iOS 11 (or higher) or macOS High Sierra can take images using their mobile devices with HEVC compression.

Check out fastest Ways to edit photos on Mac

The images are stored within the HEIC file using a combination of H.265/HEVC and HEIF attributes to achieve higher quality than JPEG at lower bit rates. It is supported in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, and devices that run these operating systems include the iPhone 6S or newer, iPad 2017 or newer, and Apple Watch Series 3 or newer.

Advantages of HEIC

HEIC is a better way to view your images. HEIC file format provides the ability to compress larger images than JPG, while maintaining smaller file sizes. It also provides a range of color palette options as well as coordinate system options when editing HEIC image files.

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When resizing a JPEG file, it can get to be over 75% larger in file size. The images that are not up to par in quality are even more bloated. This is why HEIC was created, half the size and better quality. So instead of increasing the dimensions of an image from 1920×1080 to 2560×1440 just to save on storage space, use HEIC.

It also allows for encoding image sequences, such as four shots to capture a sunset with one file, and it features better quality than smaller but comparable file formats. We expect to see HEIC adoption grow significantly in the coming years, but it’s hard to be clear about exactly how that adoption will work out as of yet.

Despite HEIF and HEIC being great formats, there are still a couple of cons associated with them:

HEIC is still brand new, so it’s a bit too soon to say if there will be any patent issues or not. This may be changing quite soon, as HEVC technology was just released to the public domain in 2017, after MPEG granted its patent rights. However, this doesn’t mean that all patents surrounding HEVC have been released into the public domain.

There are, however, a number of challenges to using HEIC on the web. Unlike JPGs and PNGs, which are supported by all modern browsers and devices, HEIC is not supported in Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. That means that sites that use HEIC images exclusively are hindered in reaching a sizeable percentage of the online population.

How To Open HEIC Files?

Open HEIC file on windows 10 pc
Open HEIC file on windows 10 pc

Open HEIC on iPhone, iPad and Mac

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra both support HEIC images right now, but due to the proprietary nature of APFS, you’ll only be able to find them on Apple devices. Your friends may have a different device running a different operating system, which is why they won’t be able to open HEIC files either. To accommodate this, Apple’s built in share supports automatic conversion to JPEG for sharing.

Open HEIC file on Windows and Android

The only way to open an HEIC file on Windows computers is to save it to your system, then convert it to JPG. One possible solution is to use a free online service like “JPEG Optimizer” that supports this kind of conversion. This service is fast, with no software installation required on your side, has apps for Android devices as well and allows you to preview the result in its web app before downloading the converted image.

Wrapping Up

All right, let’s take a look at our tools of the trade. Now, we’re professional photographers and there’s always something that we’re looking for. Bigger lens? More megapixels? Faster shooting frame rate? How about a camera that would let us shoot pictures in HEIC format so that we can take not just smaller photos, but also higher-quality photos of higher resolutions, with minimal impact on our device storage.

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